[Beowulf] Deskside clusters
Michael H. Frese
Michael.Frese at NumerEx-llC.com
Wed Aug 25 21:00:50 UTC 2021
I'm reluctant to expose my ignorance, but I think I have some experience
to share. And I don't believe this is a cluster issue.
My company -- and I do mean my company -- did 2-d multiphysics MHD
simulations up until about 4 years ago using our proprietary multiblock
domain decomposition code. The diffusive magnetic field solver used all
the vector operators in EM. So we share that much of the problems you
are wanting to run.
At the end, we did our computations on 4 workstations connected by
ancient single-channel Infiniband -- approximately 10 GB/sec but with ~1
micro second latency which was critical for the small messages we were
About 10 years ago Mellanox was dumping those and we bought 24 cards and
two switches, one 8 port and one 16 port. They cost us a little more
than GB ethernet cards, but they were 30-40 times shorter latency.
So we built two clusters in 2012. Both used handbuilt deskside
workstation boxes which we set up on commercial retail store chrome
racks -- NOT 1U or 2U.
As time went by, we upgraded to dual core, then quad core, then 8 core
CPUs with motherboards and memory to match. We used CentOS 5 for the
Infiniband until it wasn't suitable for the motherboards required and
then we went to CentOS 7. We never paid for RHEL.
At the last version, we found that we often were able to run problems on
single 8-core machines.
We stuck with AMD chips because they were faster for the money than
Intel's. The last CPUs we bought were capable of hyperthreading so we
could run 16 jobs on each 8-core box.
I bet one deskside workstation running an AMD Ryzen 9 5900X 12-core CPU
be able to do the job you want, quietly, at low power, and hence low
cooling requirement. Your problems seem to be embarrasingly parallel,
but if you need communication between processes you could use in-memory
communication, which is LOTS faster than any Infiniband. And CentOS is
fully equipped to get you an MPI with that.
Python is available. Don't know about your NEC or plotting software.
Source for NEC could be built on your new workstation if necessary.
You need a friendly sysadmin and programmer to set it up, get it going,
and get you around the list of approved workstations.
Hope this isn't too far from your requirements. Good luck!
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